No. 39. Report of Major General Richard Taylor, C. S. Army, commanding District of Western Louisiana, of operations April 9-23.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF WESTERN LOUISIANA, Alexandria, April 23, 1863.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of recent engagements with the enemy:
On Thursday morning, 9th instant, information was communicated to me by Colonel Gray, commanding at Camp Bishland, that the enemy under cover of their gunboats had crossed a small force from Brahsear City to Berwick City and that our pickets in the vicinity of Berwick had been driven in. Later in the day the same officer dispatched to me information that the enemy was in force at Brashear and was crossing troops to Berwick. This reached me while I was on my way to Butte-a-la-Rose for the purpose of hastening the departure of our gunboat fleet from that point, in order to place it in Grand Lake with a view to operations against the enemy or protection of the several landings on that lake from his approach, as his movements might be developed. I immediately returned to Camp Bisland and moved Colonel Green's Regiment, Fifth Texas Mounted Volunteers, to the front, throwing out a strong picket in advance with orders to proceed as near Berwick as possible, to skirmish with the enemy, ascertain his strength, and retard his advance. Having given orders for the gunboats Queen of the West, Grand Duke, and Mary T. to rendezvous at Buttle-a-la-Rose, and with the utmost dispatch proceed down the Atchafalaya and Grand Lake, I sent one of my staff officers to hurry them down.
During Thursday night and Friday the enemy crossed a large force of infantry, artillery, and cavalry, with wagons, the protection of their gunboats and a heavy advance guard securing them from interruption by our troops. On Friday afternoon slight skirmishing took place between Colonel Green's outpost pickets and the enemy's advance guard. On the morning of Saturday, the 11th instant, the enemy commenced seriously to advance. With an advance guard of five regiments of infantry, several batteries of artillery, and a battalion of cavalry he moved up in line of battle toward the upper mouth of the Bayou Teche, where he halted and encamped for the night. A gunboat accompanied this advance line and served as a support to its right flank. Colonel Green's pickets and advanced guard fell back slowly before the enemy, skirmishing with them. On the morning of Sunday, the 12th, the enemy continued his advance slowly and slowly and steadily on the west bank of the bayou, and at 4 o'clock in the afternoon had approached our line of defenses just below Bethel's plantation, halting at a distance of about 1,200 yards and displaying in line of battle six regiments of infantry, three batteries of artillery, and a considerable body of cavalry. A heavy second line was held by the enemy about 600 or 700 yards in rear of his first line. On the east bank a considerable force of infantry and cavalry and several pieces of artillery were displayed in front of our lines, distant about 1,800 yards from the works. A brisk cannonading was opened by our batteries along our whole line, which was replied to be the enemy and continued until sundown, when the enemy fell back a few hundred yards and encamped for the night. the whole force of our army was disposed of as follows: The Fifth Texas Mounted Volunteer Regiment, Colonel Gren, and Walker's battalion, both dismounted, on the extreme right, which rested upon a swamp and com-